Fences and Windows

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<b>Naomi Klein launches her new book</b>

“Is this the meeting for people who are interested in buying a McDonald’sfranchise?” asks one of my pew-mates as we cram to settle into the Bloor Street United Church.

Irony, indeed, is not dead.

It’s a Thursday night — September 27 — and these people have come out for the Toronto launch of Naomi Klein’s new book Fences and Windows: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the Globalization Debate, a mix of her columns and commentary from The Globe and Mail, The New York Times, The Nation, The Guardian and more, as well as previously unpublished speeches and the letter she penned with actor Sarah Polley andlawyer Clayton Ruby to the prime minister leading up to the Summit of the Americas in 2001.

But, please, she notes in the preface, don’t call it a follow up to her international bestseller No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies, about anti-corporate activism that took on the likes ofWal-Mart, Nike and McDonald’s. No Logo — the global justice “movement bible” — has been translated into twenty-some languages with more to come and won the 2001 Canadian National Business Book Award. Klein was named one of Ms. magazine’s Women of the Year and became one of the most sought-after commentators on the global justice movement.

Tonight, the line-up outside had almost reached the next intersection at 6:30 p.m., even though the doors weren’t supposed to open until 7, and Klein wouldn’t begin speaking until 8.

“I decided I wanted to call this collection Fences and Windows,” she says,“because I saw the image of the fence and the image of the window as beingthe images that best encapsulated a lot of what I believe the debate aboutglobalization is really about. The windows represent opportunities forchange and the fences are what we’re up against.”

She talks about literal fences like the Woomera Detention Centre in Australia. And metaphorical ones like those that keep necessities, like clean water, from people.

Decked out in a skirt and knee-high boots, Klein stands behind the podium, holding the mic with one hand, gesturing with the other. Occasionally, she pauses to take a sip of water or look at her notes. Behind her, images such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the U.S./Mexico border “La Frontera” and a Hong Kong refugeecamp are displayed on a screen: fences all.

But there are windows, too: the Piqueteros in Argentina — the mass movement of unemployed workers who take over the roadways in protest and block the flow of trade, and the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee in South Africa who reconnect power to people who’ve had it cut off.

“Despite all these attempts at privatization and closure,” she says, “itturns out that there are still things that don’t want to be owned, thathave a resistance to enclosure: music, water, seeds, ideas and particularlypeople. They keep bursting out of the confines that we put around them.”

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